With Valentine’s Day approaching, we’re feeling sentimental, and so there’s something we want to ask you – those four magical little words: where will you propose? Location, location, location is an equally important mantra when setting the foundations of your marriage, and while the current default choices of ‘the sofa’ or ‘the bedroom’ are passable proposal spots, you might want to wait for somewhere that screams ‘yes’. To give your betrothal a bit of a boost, we’ve picked the best places to propose.
For history lovers:
Residenza Napoleone III, Rome
Italy scores so high on the romance scale that donning a shlubby tracksuit and presenting a ring from a cracker would probably still elicit a ‘yes’. But, this lacks the passionate escapism of having a key to practically your very own palace. Live out your Roman Holiday fantasies at the Residenza (named for its former noble inhabitant), by designer-boutique-lined Via Condotti, in 16th-century Palazzo Ruspoli. It has just two suites; choose the Napoleone Suite for all the period drama of oil paintings, tapestries and a canopied bed, or the penthouse Roof Garden Suite for Roman panoramas. Plus, your personal butler can help to ensure the proposal goes smoothly.
For adventure lovers:
Awasi Patagonia, Chile
Picture the scene: the snow-wrapped Torres del Paine mountains slumber like distant giants under a glittering firmament, in Disney-movie style a guanaco skitters by in the distance, and you – freshly warm from soaking in your own hot tub – sink to one knee and pop the question, with just your beloved and the end-of-the-earth elements to witness it. And that’s how it’s done at Awasi Patagonia, where the fiery peaks and luminous glaciers and lakes of Torres del Paine national park lie close by and wilderness cabins, which come with a private guide, promise adventure and ardour all in one.
For classic lovers:
The Pig on the Beach, UK
The rules of historic British romance demand that you propose in a dramatically wild and blustery setting, and the Jurassic Coast, with its sea-battered white-as-a-wedding-gown cliffs and golden scythes of sand, fits the bill. And the quintessential topper on the future-wedding cake will be a stay at the Pig on the Beach, a place of whimsical Victoriana, meals sourced within 25 miles and fruity cocktails that speak of ripe kitchen-garden harvests. Book the buttercup-hued, thatch-roofed Bothy for its quirky rustic charm.
For Earth lovers:
Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia
Cambodia’s southern coast has been slowly establishing itself as a big-hitting honeymoon destination – but why wait till after the wedding when that ring’s burning a hole in your pocket now? Song Saa Private Island is one of the best places to propose, too, with its two rainforest-jacketed isles offer picturesque settings at every turn. It caters to chic eco-conscious castaways, too, with local-hire schemes and marine conservation efforts putting it in our very good books. Our advice: book one of the Maldives-style overwater villas, get staff to dress your deck with candles and champagne, pop the question then celebrate with a nighttime swim in bioluminescent waters.
For animal lovers:
Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Sri Lanka
You know what takes a proposal to the next level: elephants. And, if you time it just right at Wild Coast Tented Lodge, playful pachyderms taking a morning stroll may photobomb you. This romantic and remote retreat has upscale tented lodgings, which resemble the mighty boulders scattered along the bushland of Sri Lanka’s southern coast. And you’ll see more exotic beasties on game drives (included in your room rate) through leopard-roamed Yala National Park. And if you’d prefer to keep riding that high post-drive, propose over delicately spiced dishes on the fire-warmed dining terrace.
For privacy lovers:
Wa Ale Island Resort, Burma
Another ecologically sound choice in a destination that’s finding its feet again as a romance-laden tropical paradise, Wa Ale Island Resort was built primarily to protect Lampi Marine National Park’s delicate ecosystem. And, it’s done a bang-up job of keeping the private island’s 9,000 acres of forest and beach, making it a thriving space for sea turtles, monkeys, eagles and more. The beaches are pristine and there are just 14 villas, so you’re guaranteed some privacy for that moment you propose.
For super-chill lovers:
Deplar Farm, Iceland
If you’re looking for somewhere a little cooler to present that all-important ‘ice’, Deplar Farm is snow-bound and story-bookish come winter. Its black, turf-roofed farmhouses offer maximum snuggliness with furry throws and log fires; and beyond, the mystical Arctic scenery is primed for adventure (clay-pigeon shooting, whale watching and horse-riding are included in your room rate). For the big moment, wait till you’re both floating under the stars in the geothermally heated open-air pool – if the Norse gods are smiling on you, the ethereal green flickers of the Northern Lights might perform as you propose, too.
For stylish lovers:
Forget Casablanca, this love story is set in Marrakech at beautiful riad L’Hôtel. It’s owned by none other than Jasper Conran, whose exquisite taste comes to the fore here, from the white-veiled beds and heritage statement pieces in rooms, to the gold platters fragrant salads and tagines arrive on, to the garden pavilion with its striped wingbacks and decorative arches. We could go on. The garden feels like a mini forest you can get lost in, the roof terrace is all set for sundowners and be sure to book a room with a balcony, because when the time comes to do your thing, you can pull a curtain across and shut the world away.
For fairy-tale lovers:
Magic Camps Oman
Nothing says ‘spend the rest of your life with me’ than a death-defying off-road drive over bumpy sand dunes. But your soon-to-be spouse will forgive you once you arrive at your tricked-out desert camp for all the spectacles Arabian nights offer. It’s cut-above camping, with sculptural sandy landscapes all around, a comfortable bed and staff to wake you with strong coffee, take you on camel rides and prepare mezze feasts. Take a knee at sunset and then turn your eyes skywards. Believe your love’s written in the stars? They’re so bright after dark that ‘will you marry me?’ is practically spelled out for you here.
Casa No Name, Mexico
Deborah Turbeville, a Harper’s Bazaar writer and photographer known for her eerie fashion editorials, was so enamoured with Casa No Name, her house in San Miguel de Allende, that she created a poetic book composed of images of its bohemian interiors and fairy-tale gardens. Whether it’s the wood beams, cosy fireplaces, pops of Kahlo-esque colour or its enigmatic moniker, the place exudes a seductive aura. Find a quiet moment around the fire pit or steal into a private patio to do the ring thing.
For active lovers:
Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, Canada
Your intended may twig that something big is about to happen enroute to Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort – casual seaplane rides which descend into the thick firs and spruces of the Great Bear Rainforest aren’t a thing (and that’s the only way to reach the hotel). But, even if your plans are rumbled, your stay will be unshakably wonderful. Whales breach close by, bears and bobcats stalk the woods, and you can swoop over the staggering 50,000 feet of raw nature in a helicopter. But, it’s a place with heart too, where a floating sauna and cedarwood hot tubs will keep you toasty, foraged foods will keep you well fed and porches with rocking chairs for two make ideal for proposal backdrops.
For les amoreux:
La Réserve Hotel and Spa Paris
Nothing says ‘prepare to be engaged’ than a suite overlooking the Eiffel Tower. You won’t win points for originality, but if this particular suite is at the fabulously Gallic La Réserve Hotel, then you’ll score plenty. This is a stay that’s thrown any pretence of humility out the view-blessed window – butlers abound, as do gilding and custom damask wallpapers; the spa has a pool big enough for exaggerated breast strokes (a rare thing for this space-starved city); and the dining deserves the heartiest of ‘chef’s kiss’ gestures. But for all its aristocratic flouncing, it feels like the cosiest kind of Versailles, and on your little balcon with just the two of you and the city all aglow, it’ll feel like your own little world.
For lovers of la dolce vita:
Paragon 700, Puglia
Puglia is the new Tuscany, as proved by gloriously romantic hotels such as Paragon 700. Set in the Palazzo Rosso –the former home of a 19th-century freedom fighter – fully restored and superbly styled, it now inflames more romantic passions. The descendants of the Tanzanella family have scoured antique fairs, carefully retouched frescoes and turned African bomas and Indian gazebos into bath tubs to create this uniquely charming stay. Cathedral-like ceilings and elaborate beds make the rooms proposal-ready, but we suggest ring-bestowing after a private truffle-laced, caviar-topped meal in the orangery.
Browse our complete collection of proposal-perfect hotels. It’s less stressful than ring shopping, we hope…